Communicate responsively, not just responsibly!
It really only takes a few minutes to recall a conversation or situation in which we said or typed something we wished we could shove back into our mouth or suck back into our electronic device. And those are the ones we know about!! How about the ones that created a situation in which we were viewed in a completely different light than we thought?!?!?
Here are a few things to think about in advance to help you in future communications, whether they be spoken or written.
Avoid Excuses – perhaps you or someone in your company did something wrong. Focus on the issue and how you can help, don’t give reasons/excuses for why it may have happened.
Excuses force a change of topic from the customer’s issue to your issue.
Excuses are an unnecessary waste of time – your time and the customer’s.
Excuses imply to the customer that they are not going to get what they want or that you don’t care that something went wrong.
Give each person your undivided attention – this is true for conversation, emails or texts.
It really is impossible to be fully engaged in 2 things at the same time – one will suffer!
You may miss information or misconstrue what the other person is communicating. This may be especially true when we think we can ‘quickly’ sneak in an email or text.
Texts or emails read and replied to in haste can easily not be misunderstood or not convey our intended message.
Communicate responsively – is that a term I just made up??? What I mean is communicate in a way that doesn’t close a door…so that the other person feels that you are ‘responsive’ to what they are communicating.
Things not to say:
I don’t think that’s possible.
Are you sure?!?!
She wasn’t supposed to do that.
That never happened to anyone else.
I don’t see how that will happen.
Use their name – this is helpful when spoken or typed.
Repeat or re-state information so that they know you understand. It really is OK to say ‘I believe this is what you are saying.’
Ask questions. Yes, a text that says ‘Did you mean…..?’ is really OK.
Say ‘I understand.’ The other person will know you are connected to the thread of the conversation, no matter what method of communication is happening.
Don’t leave the other person ‘hanging’ and wondering what you meant or where things go from here.
Recap the situation and tell them what to expect.
‘K’ is not an appropriate response unless someone is texting you and telling you they will be arriving in 10 minutes!
The other person will always feel ‘heard’ if you are communicating well…even if you are unable to help them.
Don’t allow the ‘pressure of time’ to push you into unhelpful words.
More things not to say:
I don’t have time to do that.
I’m too busy.
That is not possible.
There’s no way that is going to happen.
I doubt it.
Try having a conversation as your eyes go down this list of helpful suggestions. It may go something like this: ‘Mrs. Jones, I am sorry that happened; I understand why you would be upset. Is it OK if I place you on hold so I can help the person standing at my desk? I will then get back with you and find a solution to this problem.’
Then, ‘Thanks for holding, Mrs. Jones. I want to recap what you told me so I make sure I have the details.’
Then, ‘I appreciate you taking the time to help me get this right. I will have to do a bit of research and talk to my manager. I will call you back tomorrow before noon. Will that work for you?’
Then, ‘Thanks again, Mrs. Jones. I’m sure we will get to the bottom of this. I look forward to talking to you tomorrow.’
Obviously, if this were an email exchange, the conversation would be a bit different but – you get the idea – taking the time to communicate fully will slow down a negative process and promotes an attitude of care and helpfulness. The outcome may be no different and you may already know that - but the person with whom you are communicating will perceive that you will have done everything possible to help them.
Don’t forget – these conversations or exchanges do not need to be lengthy or take a lot of your time. They just need to be thoughtful!